Novartis inks partnership agreement with Cellerys

As part of their longterm agreement, pharma giant Novartis and Zurich based Cellerys, will accelerate the development of a new therapy for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This deal could lead to the acquisition of Cellerys. 

Founded in 2015 as a University of Zurich spinout by two renowned Multiple Sclerosis (MS) specialists Roland Martin and Andreas Lutterotti, Cellerys is a Zurich-based biotech company focused on the development of CLS12311, a new drug designed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis with the potential to delay the progression of the disease. 

As part of the immune tolerance therapy, patient red blood cells are coupled outside of the patient's body with peptides representing the major target antigens in MS. After reinfusion, the coupled cells undergo natural cell death in the body and are presented to the immune system in a tolerogenic manner in the liver and spleen. The Phase 1 clinical trial, funded and supported by Wyss Zurich from October 2015 to June 2021, was conducted at the University Hospital Zurich. CLS12311 was found to be safe and well-tolerated. It is currently under further investigation in the phase 2 clinical trial.

For the next phase, Cellerys and Novartis have entered a long-term partnership. "Under the agreement, Novartis will support the development of the CLS12311 therapy the Basel-based drugmaker said in a statement. "Novartis will have the option to acquire Cellerys upon completion of a Phase 2 trial in the coming years."

This transaction builds on Novartis' long-term commitment to explore the causes of MS and accelerate the search for new treatments for MS patients. In a statement presented by Wyss Zurich, Norman Putzki, Neuroscience Development Unit Head at Novartis, said, “Immune tolerance therapies could become a new way to treat multiple sclerosis. Novartis has long been committed to advancing care for people with MS, and we now eagerly await the next study results.”

"We are pleased to have found a strong partner in Novartis for the further development of this innovative MS therapy," says Roland Martin, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Cellerys.

(Press release / RAN)